Wednesday, August 24, 2016

...we accept the love we think we deserve.

I currently have a pretty awful commute bridging my home and my work. I've learned to get pretty creative with that time in hopes of preventing physical aggression or worse... losing my mind. 

I recently discovered the world of podcasts and it's been SUCH a game-changer. I mean, it's not like I never see anything interesting on my commute...


...but it really does help to take my mind off the time I'm losing to listen to something that sets my mind on things that help me grow and heal and that inspire and encourage me.

Today I listened to a podcast honoring one of my favorite people, one whom I've never met, but greatly anticipate meeting one day: the great, Brennan Manning. I believe it was a youth group teaching and the title was, 'What has Brennan Manning taught us about life together?'

The beginning of the podcast was a little hard to follow, but they shared a clip from the movie, 'The Perks of Being a Wallflower'. (Sounds like a great film and novel!) The line that stood out to me before they even got to the good stuff, the Brennan Manning sharing part, was this:

Student: Why do nice people choose the wrong people to date?
Teacher: Are we talking about anyone in specific...? 
*silence*
Teacher: ...we accept the love we think we deserve. 
Student: Can we make them see they deserve more?
Teacher: All we can do is try.

Hours later, I have to wonder how true that is of my life. How true is it for those that allow me to be a part of their lives?

//

The following is a video of the few minutes shared in this podcast. At the beginning of the podcast today, the speaker said if you've heard Brennan Manning speak once, you've heard all his teachings because he shares the same truth every time. While that's true, I can never get enough of his words. I re-listen everything of his and even often have to write them out to chew and digest them as best as I can. 

I hope you're challenged and encouraged by these few minutes and beautiful words spoken by Brennan Manning depicting the beauty of brokenness and trust in our Sweet Jesus...


In the 48 years since I was first ambushed by Jesus, in a little chapel in the Allegheny Mountains of western Pennsylvania, and in literally the thousands of hours of prayer and meditation, silence and solitude over those years, I am now utterly convinced that on Judgement Day, the Lord Jesus is gonna ask each of us one question and just one question: 

'Did you believe that I loved you? That I desired you? That I waited for you day after day? That I longed to hear the sound of your voice?'

The real believers there will answer, 'Yes, Jesus. I believed in your love and I tried to shape my life as a response to it.' 

But many of us who are so faithful in our ministry and our practice and our churchgoing, are going to have to reply, 'Well frankly, no, sir. I mean, I never really believed it. I mean, I heard a lot of wonderful sermons and teachings about it, in fact, I gave quite a few myself, but I always thought that was just a way of speaking, a kindly lie some Christian's pious pat on the back to cheer me on.' 

And there's the difference between the real believers and the nominal Christians that are bound in our Churches across the land. 

No one can measure like a believer the depth and the intensity of God's love, but at the same time, no one can measure like a believer the effectiveness of our gloom, pessimism, low self-esteem, self-hatred, and despair that block God's way to us. 

Do you see why it is so important to lay hold of this basic truth of our faith? Because you're only going to be as big as your own concept of God. 

Remember the famous line of the French philosopher, Blaise Pascal? 'God made man in his own image and man returned the compliment.' We often make God in our own image and He winds up to be as fussy, rude, narrow-minded, legalistic, judgmental, unforgiving, and unloving as we are. 

In the past couple of three years, I have preached the Gospel to the financial community in Wall Street of NYC, the airmen and women of the Air-force Academy of Colorado Springs, a thousand physicians in Nairobi, I've been in churches in Lagrangian, Miami, Chicago, St. Louis, Seattle, San Diego, and honest, the God of so many Christians I meet is a God who's too small for me! Because he is not the God of the Word. He is not the God revealed by and in Jesus Christ who this moment comes right to your seat and says,

'I have a word for you.

I know your whole life story. I know every skeleton in your closet. I know every moment of sin, shame, dishonest, and degraded love that has darkened your past. Right now, I know your shallow faith, your feeble prayer life, your inconsistent discipleship.

And my word is this:

I dare you to trust that I love you just as you are and not as you should be, because you're never gonna be as you should be.   

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

"Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart."- William Woodsworth

"Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart."- William Woodsworth

Some days it takes everything in me to get out of my head and focus on the task at hand. The craziest part to me though is that then those days end with moments like this where all I want to do is pour my heart out into words... but I can't get to them! It's like they're all on a mad dash in different directions, running as fast and as far as they can. Maybe they have no desire to be tamed either. Maybe they know better than to let me catch them and put them on this paper for the world to see... maybe, just maybe, my subconscious is smarter than I think! 


It's hard to focus when all you want to do is be out in the big beautiful world. 



Exploring. 
Meeting new people. 
Actually getting to know the people you've already met. 



How did we get to this point? We've got so much vying for our time and attention that we don't even know where to start. Most of the time that doesn't seem to matter much anyway because our time's already been spoken for. 



I want to spend my time doing things that are meaningful. I don't mean to say that my 8-5 isn't meaningful, not by any means. I have an incredible team that I work with and I'm able to connect with those individuals because of the role I have and it's excellent. I mean, I want to be so intentional with my time that even my sillies don't get overlooked or forgotten. I think I've just allowed myself to be so calloused lately that everything's become routine. I've hardened my heart to avoid feeling that I've just become some dumb robot! 



Working on it. 



The other part of me is actively loving myself and embracing the silly little fool that I am. 



My goal is to write every other day - three to four times a week. I want to literally fill papers with the breathings of my heart. I want to document the crazy inner-workings of my heart and my mind. I want the truth to be seen and known by all those who encounter me. 



From the depths of your bones
to the smile shining across your face,
you are your own person.
Let it be known.



Sunday, October 4, 2015

write drunk, edit sober...

Write drunk, edit sober - that's what they always say, write right?

Well, that's what my bottle of cab sauv is telling me right now... so, yes, that's what I'm doing...

You should do it too! Talk about liberation. :)



My assignment for the weekend was to have 30 pages of what 'would be' the beginning of my memoir ready for my accountability partners... Sorry guys... I'm afraid I'm just not there quite yet. Apparently there are a few things I need to get off my chest before I can dive that deep...

Somehow I feel I keep finding myself in these odd situation where people tell me I would never understand. Someone with children will tell me how terribly difficult their day-to-day life is - I have no doubt there are struggles, but think about the fact that you're complaining about a wonderful problem to someone who wants nothing more than what you're living. I'll be talking to someone who's been struggling with their weight... while I've never been 'medically' overweight, I've had/have my fair share of health issues and body complexes - somehow, I manage to gain the same 40 pounds every time I move to a magical place. (Hoping that was a phase... but avoiding the scale just in case!)

My point is, we've all got battles. We are all struggling with something

The past few weeks or months I've noticed a lot of less than fantastic things about myself that I'm really working on addressing. Being proactive, if you will.

Don't get me wrong, I have a really fantastic life. I really like it. (Honest!) But somewhere in the middle of trying to impress people who really don't need to be impressed and mysteriously losing my love-of-self, I've discovered there are a few things that might, just possibly be problematic in the long run:

Example A)

I am afraid I may never bear children, my biggest dream, either because I'll forever be alone or my body may not be adequate to do so. 

Example B)

I spend an absurd amount of time analyzing what I think people think of me. An. Absurd. Amount. Of. Time.  

Okay, there are too many to keep that up... 

My biggest challenge in life is letting go of people, even if they hurt me. 

I'm pretty sure I try to buy people's love in fear that they won't accept me otherwise. (Thanks Mom! But, seriously, love you and your gift-giving-love-buying-honest-ways...)

I feel like I've always kind of been a loner; therefore, I must have failed as a friend.

I almost always have a book on me so I can be invisible without actually feeling invisible in crowds and/or groups. 

I have a systemic infection that I am insanely self-conscious of... so much so, that I only get my hair cut once a year in order to avoid having anyone touch and/or see my scalp. 

I feel like I am an easy person to disregard, and it eats away at me pretty much daily. 

I almost always operate under the assumption that I care more about everyone else than they do about me. 

I unfollow people on Instagram and Facebook if their life seems too perfect because it makes me feel inadequate. 

I fear being alone forever, but have a really hard time letting down my guard so anyone interested might actually have the opportunity to see who I really am.

I hate emptying the dishwasher. 

Every day I see all my crazies and wonder if there's a man out there with a big enough heart to love me anyway.

I don't trust other drivers, and therefore, sometimes find callouses on my hands and have no reason deduct anything other than they must be from my road-rage/anxiety.

I want to write a book so badly it hurts, but am afraid of people telling me my story isn't worth reading. 

Sometimes, on my way to work, some random Led Zeppelin song will come on the radio and I'll be so caught up with the nostalgia and feelings of longing for my family, I will pull into my parking spot and not even notice my face is stained with tears.

I struggle every single day with feeling like I'm enough. Smart enough. Pretty enough. Fun enough. Good enough.

And, I cry... A lot. Like, most every emotion. 
...just ask my co-workers. :/

So, go on. Share your struggles! They're legitimate!

Tell the people you trust of the things that are weighing you down - who knows? Maybe they'll have some words of wisdom to encourage you! Crazier yet, perhaps they'll have struggled with the same exact thing?!

I don't mean to tell you I've been through it all, that there's nothing I've never hurt from. That's simply not the case. There are many times I've been entrusted with troubles that I can only imagine bearing. I honestly hope I won't ever be in the place to have to carry them, to be completely honest, but it's not to say that's how it'll all play out. We all have something we're carrying and really working through. It's a tough life... I'm 1000% convinced this world is a ghetto! Until we cross those pearly gates, it's not going to be easy - there's no two ways about.

But what I have learned (and apparently am still learning), is this: we have been given a community, a tribe. Whether we allow them to assist us in working through and unraveling our troubles is up to us. It's not easy, but it is worth it. 

My challenge to you today is this: 

Love those you've been given. Do something today to let down your guard just a bit to let those in your life to catch a little bit more of a glimpse of your beautiful self. 

I can tell you it's not going to be easy. 

It probably won't be comfortable.

It might not be pretty, either. 

But it'll be worth it. 

Do what you can today to love yourself and encourage others to do the same.

Much love, 
Lauren


Sunday, September 27, 2015

self-love = getting out to catch the sunrise

We thought we'd for sure missed it...

All these colors and changes presented themselves within a half-hour.

Had anyone been around, they probably would have thought we were on a roller coaster or something, hooting and cheering like we'd never been out in the fresh air!

I just can't even...

Unfortunately, I had my 50mm lens on my camera which didn't allow me to catch the sun actually rising AND Mt. Hood at the same time, but I think it's safe to say there was enough beauty flowing it doesn't matter too terribly much. This shot was dramatic and incredible. Ah. :)

This is my view each morning as I struggle to make my way through traffic... It's distracting to say the least, but without it, that drive would be completely unbearable.

'white-knuckling'

Life is hard. 


Am I right?



I mean, I don't have anything out of the ordinary to really complain about, but this crazy thing that I somehow always feel I need to have a real grip on (life), is confusing, and grey and, just really hard to navigate!



I am a feeler. 



I base my thoughts and decisions and opinions more off of my intuition and emotions than on pure logic and reasoning. That being said, I feel very deeply. Everything. I don't know how to change this. Being more 'mindful' of it often merely highlights the fact that my heart is very active and can get distracting from things that need my focus and attention. 



I have a good grip of who I am and I very much enjoy that individual. I am also a people pleaser and do what I can to do just that... I like being happy; therefore, I enjoy being a catalyst and brightening other peoples' days. Not entirely a bad thing. 



Until. I let it go too far. 



Recently I found myself compromising who I am deep down in my core in an attempt to impress someone I knew and cared for many moons ago. Nothing I was doing was beneficial to either of us. My Our communication was nearly nonexistent. I found myself keeping to myself because he didn't seem interested and would mostly only share critical comments on who I was and the fears that I carried with me. Through all this, I discovered a hang-up I have allowed into quite a few areas of my life: I am now aware that I am pretty notorious for 'white-knuckling'. 



This experience has taught me that I cling to that which I desire the most in fear of losing it, but that desperate energy that fuels my existence chases these things away. (Duh. Scary!) Apparently, sometimes the mere purpose of a relationship is to tear down your walls. Shake you awake. Reveal the best parts of you to you. Sometimes that requires ample amounts of ruthless self-awareness and introspection. Again, not easy and certainly not fun.



Through all this discovery, I've come to the conclusion that there is an expiration to how long we hold onto something. We are unable to hold onto something that is no longer serving us - sometimes this comes in the form of an unexpected expense, an unfortunate layoff, or a super out-of-the-blue blindsiding breakup. When something is no longer serving our best interest, it will be removed from our lives regardless of our preference. If you're over attached to someone out of fear of being alone, that clinging and clutching result in even greater pain when the relationship ends or shifts into another direction.


What am I doing to rid my life of this hangup? 

That's a great question...

I don't have a formula.


My approach is going to be one that allows more room for freedom and encouragement to be myself, less room for painful criticism and the perspective of unworthiness, and more room for acceptance, satisfaction, and love. 



I know this might sound pretty hippy, dippy, but heartache sucks and sometimes the revelations it brings with it are kind of mind-blowing!



We all have the opportunity to surrender to the natural flow of life, love, true connection. The trick is whether we allow ourselves to loosen the grip we've become so accustomed to in order for authenticity to shine through. My goal is to embrace change and step out in to this beautiful world with an open heart and open palms!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Poky to Boise ...better late than never. :)


The next few posts will be a little out of order, but I need this particular memory and happenstance for the post I'd really like to be composing at the moment... how's that for building the anticipation?? :) 

My trip out west was one of necessity and healing of sorts... it still is. There's just something about this crazy life that has me drawn to the best coast... I'm still working on pin-pointing some of those details. 

ANYWHO. 

On my way out here, I made the most of my trip. My heart was (and still is, for the most part) pretty tender and broken from leaving the people I love more than anyone else. (I know, the whole life and situation is such a conundrum!) 

As noted previously, I had the pleasure of catching up with my dear friend, Hannah, in Denver. I was also able to catch up with my Ashley Grace, but unfortunately can't seem to find photos documenting such an occasion. I was also able to stop in Pocatello to visit my aunt, uncle, and cousins! (More on that in another post - told ya it'd be non-sequential for a bit!) Post-Pocatello I had great plans of a mini-sabbatical for myself. I was exhausted from wrestling with this whole life transition and committing to starting over somewhere so far from my family and actually following through and making the move - it's a lot of crazy details and miles!  


The skies were a bit dicy on my 3-ish hour drive... I'll refrain from sharing some of the other photos... It was fitting, yet again, for the heavy heart that always seems to go along with leaving family. 

It's hard to deny that Boise was ready for me though... JUST LOOK AT THOSE SKIES!

Brace yourself...

The next few photos are so scrumptious that you'll fully understand why I nearly didn't leave for two days... 

I discovered an app called 'Roadtrippers' a few months before my move and was captivated by it pretty much the whole time leading up to this grand adventure. The first thing I knew I needed to include in my trip was a quiet two-day chunk to catch up on sleep and journaling and just process what all was going on in my life and my heart. 

Boise looked like the best stop to do so. 

...the Boise Guesthouse only enhanced the experience.

Boise Guesthouse - Downtown Boise, Idaho
My first step in the door, I was welcomed by a video of a fire burning... This might sound cheesey, but believe me, it was such a delight. Just the rhythm of movement and crackling of the flames were very soothing and warm. 

I always have a special appreciation for Punk Rock Green bathrooms!!!

It took me no time to make myself right at home... did a little yoga by my sweet little fire, composed a few notes to those back home, and settled into a restful night of my favorite apéritif and a cup of two-buck-chuck-Cab-Sauv - yum.



I slept like a queen... something that I am, super unfortunately, not good at. This place was so dreamy. So relaxing. I never wanted to leave! I knew that my next destination was my final destination and that I'd soon be thrown back into reality. A very new and unknown reality. So much of me was pretty unsure whether I'd made the right choice or not!
Breakfast in bed.

Being a 'guesthouse' rather than a bed and breakfast, the Boise Guesthouse outsources their meals to a restaurant downtown, you've got the choice of leaving this dreamy wonderland of an oasis and enjoying your meal at the restaurant, OR they'll deliver it to your door.

Clearly I chose the latter.
This trip was such a necessary bridge from my life in Iowa to my new life on the best coast, but it was very emotionally taxing... Well, the whole thing was emotionally taxing... the trip helped to work through the emotions. During my visit in Denver, Hannah suggested I catch up with another classmate from the school we'd met at, Meagan. 

I had had few encounters with Meagan, but all were lovely... for me anyway, poor girl ended up in the ER during one of them - that was super awful for her. :(

I sometimes feel pretty awkward attempting to reconnect with people I didn't know super well previously. That to say, I wasn't nervous to meet up with Meagan, but I didn't really know what to expect or if she'd be able to handle my emotionally heavy self even just for one meal. 

I should have known better. 

A lot better. 

Meagan is such a beautiful soul.

She's one of those rare people who, while in her presence, you just find peace. She is a phenomenal listener and encourager. She's a fellow dreamer, which is always welcomed and appreciated. 

Unfortunately, this photo is more focused on the food than her beautiful face, but there's more to come, don't  you worry. 

Shangri-La Tea Room and Cafe - Boise, Idaho
Meagan has discovered health issues since our time at Ecola and has been so proactive in her healing process. I just can't tell you how encouraging my time with her was.

Sometimes I look back and wonder why I didn't get to know her better at Ecola, but it always comes down to the fact that I'm certain God knew I needed her friendship more in this season than I did then. Her love and support is so empowering. She's just so wonderful.

All this talk of health and healing and we totally splurged on a piece of raw cashew 'cheesecake'.

Here's my beauty! Just look at that smile. Doesn't it make you want to wrap her in a bear hug??? Yeah, me too. :)

So, I mentioned way at the beginning of this post that it was leading to the post I really want to share... that's very true, but I have to confess that blogging is a little exhausting. There. I said it. :)

I wanted to share this post first, to note how thankful I am that I was able to reconnect with sweet Meagan. I wanted to note that she shared things with me concerning her health journey that were so difficult and discouraging, and yet, she somehow was able to turn it into a knowledge of empowerment, where I was eager to jump into life and chase that ideal of true health that I sometimes feel like we, in this country, know so little about. 

Meagan lit the fire in my heart to chase my dreams of knowledge and wholeness that sometimes I think I'm the only one capable of seeing. Even if it was only a mere moment, I know she held onto that dream and carried it with me. 

Kind of a lousy way to wrap something up... but that's okay. All that to say: this was a very special time of rejuvenation and rest in order for me to jump into the next season of my life: Portlandia. 

:) 


Sunday, November 16, 2014

st. mary's glacier | alice, colorado

One of my favorite things about Hannah is that she's always up for adventures and exploring, big or small. She also always seems to know of the best places to find these adventures. 

For this particular adventure, I had just left my family and loved ones and driven through the great state of Nebraska while Hannah had just put nearly forty hours in in a mere three days... we were both pretty low on energy. 

The hike was gentle. For a while we were the only ones out there... before we knew it, people seemed to be coming out of the trees! It was fun to see all the different people. Nature does things to people. Everyone we encountered was smiling and delightful. There was a young family that especially stood out to me as they had a whole crew of littles, all different shapes, sizes, and colors... most of them were either dressed to the nines or in a costume of some sort. :) I think I'll try that the next time I take a hike too.




It felt as if we were a million miles away from civilization. We really should have been unplugged... These photos are all from my phone, so clearly we weren't, but it was nice to feel that freedom. The air up there was so delicious: crystal clear and oh so fresh. :)




I'm pretty sure she was mocking me for the next few photos, but we were in stitches and the photos just capture how much fun we have together, so I kept them. 














The air we breathe, the water we drink, and the land we inhabit 
are not only critical elements in the quality of life we enjoy - 
they are a reflection of the majesty of our Creator.